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Rebecca’s journey to set up her own business – with a Twist

Bramley resident Rebecca Gregson-Twist has been on a personal journey, overcoming physical and mental health challenges to set up her own physiotherapy business: Twist Physiotherapy. Josie Armitage interviewed Rebecca as the business looks to the future post lockdown.

How did your business journey start?

I was a successful marketing manager at a senior level in a big organisation. In 2010 I got ill and was diagnosed with a life threatening tumour. Thanks to our amazing NHS I had the tumour removed and have been incredibly lucky to have remained well. This changed my outlook on life.

I then decided I wanted to change things.  I was working 15-hour days, away from home and travelling. I lived for work. When I went back to work I couldn’t find my passion for my job again, it just didn’t mean anything to me anymore so I took redundancy and after much soul searching in 2012 I retrained as a physio.

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Since the age of 19, I have suffered from mental health issues and was on anti-depressants.  Luckily I am high functioning. I was re-diagnosed with Bipolar Type 2 and am on medication to stabilise this. 

Why did you become a physio?

I wanted to put something back.  I had always been amazed at the body’s ability to change and to be changed through exercise and attitude. I did a health access course to start with. In 2015 I graduated with a 1st class honours degree in Physiotherapy from the University of Bradford.  It was tough, both an amazing and incredibly challenging experience. In truth, I continually questioned my choices and struggled with my confidence in such a new area. But when somebody comes back to my clinic and says, ‘I’m so much better’ or ‘I can do that thing that I couldn’t do before’ or just ‘it doesn’t hurt any more’, I know I made the right decision.

I had no idea how much physiotherapy is not a job but a continual path of learning, reflection, mistakes and successes, of self-doubt and then boosts in confidence when you know you made a difference.  You need to be 100% committed to keep up with all the latest practices.

How did you gain the experience to start your business?

I started my physio life working for the Leeds Partnership Trust with people with usually very profound learning disabilities.  I did this for a year.

As most physios do, I needed a wider skill set.  I wanted to gain a wide range of experience in different situations – NHS, private hospital, charity.  I moved to the Yorkshire Clinic which gave me my MSK (Musculoskeletal) outpatient and orthopaedic experience.

The team there have so much amazing experience and passion for physiotherapy. I felt like I’d passed my driving test as a physio but now I was really learning how to drive!

I then took my level 3 sports massage qualification. In April 2017 I started to work for myself offering sports massage from home. Things grew and I was able to go part time at the Yorkshire Clinic.  I had a wider client base mainly through recommendation and expanding to offer physio assessment and treatment.

I then decided to take a job with even less hours to accommodate my growing business. I moved to Champion House, a residential home for people with neurological conditions. By early 2020, I had set up the physio department to a place that I was happy to hand it over to another pair of capable hands!

How did you build up your business?

I expanded the range of services and treatments I could offer clients.  I spend most of my time working with clients with MSK issues – bad backs/shoulders/necks and general injury management.  I am passionate about offering a holistic approach to clients.

Most of my clients are recommended to me so it’s great that I am building up my business in this way.

I linked up with local sports clubs and signed up with insurance companies, including AXA, Aviva and Vitality Health.  If people have insurance with these companies, they can have my services funded as part of their insurance. 

What drives you?

I love learning new things.  I like to keep my brain active!

I like reading lots of research into new and existing treatments so I can learn more and advise and help my clients. 

Over the last few years I have studied aquatic therapy, sports massage, kinesiology taping amongst others.  In 2020 I will be doing my MAT 1 Pilates qualification, strength and conditioning, acupuncture and I may even start my MSc! I love to better myself and expand my skill set for my clients.

A positive start to 2020

The start of 2020 brought new super exciting changes. On 25th January, Twist Physiotherapy moved into a new facility just off Owlcotes Roundabout in Pudsey, working with Rachel Green, who set up her amazing new venture Evolve Medical. This meant more flexible appointments, luxurious waiting area, more treatments and treatment packages at a super convenient location.

Then came Covid-19

On 23rd March when the country went into lockdown I closed my practice. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) advised against face to face contact and the only physios that had face to face contact were hospital physios. Until recently only emergency face to face contact was allowed.

It’s been a very tough time my practice was just getting up and running so this has been a big blow. As a fairly new business, I didn’t qualify for any Government financial support. I’m currently working as part of the test and trace clinical team.

The future

Over the last couple of weeks CSP has loosened the guidelines and I have been spending time making sure that I am absolutely safe to practice. 

I will be back in the clinic on Monday 6th July and I’m already very booked up! It still needs to be considered necessary for somebody to have a face to face appointment.

Online physio is recommended wherever possible and I developed online packages during lockdown. This has worked very well and I will continue to do this. I’m also planning to do Covid rehab sessions as there will be many people needing help getting back to normal after Covid-19.

I want to build on the start I made in January and grow my client base and become more well known in the local area.

Fingers crossed I’ll be able to get back to being a viable business!

Have a look at Rebecca’s website: www.twistphysiotherapy.co.uk to find out more about the services she offers.  You can book an appointment online.   

Update: This article was edited 7/7/20 & 9/7/20 to replace incorrect information about the business.

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